Eurocopter’s ubiquitous light single, the AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar, is subject to airspeed limits and repetitive inspections as a result of an early-October emergency service bulletin and accompanying airworthiness directive (AD). The helicopter is now limited to 100 knots airspeed at sea level to reduce dynamic loads on the tail rotor. In addition, repetitive inspections must be conducted, with maximum intervals of three flight hours, on the laminated half-bearings.
Early in December, Eurocopter and the EASA published an additional emergency service bulletin and accompanying emergency AD. All AS350/AS355 Ecureuil (AStar and TwinStar) models are affected. Although no evidence of laminated half-bearing deterioration has been found on pre-B3e models, inspections are mandated. However, as the inspection interval is 10 hours, the AD will probably cause less inconvenience than those affecting the B3e.
Operations of the latest version of Eurocopter’s ubiquitous light single, the AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar, have been affected by an emergency service bulletin and accompanying emergency airworthiness directive (AD).
Under the restrictions, the helicopter’s true airspeed is limited to 100 knots to reduce dynamic loads on the tail rotor. In addition, repetitive inspections must be conducted, with maximum intervals of three flight hours, on the laminated half-bearings.
Russian operator UTAir has secured a seven-year loan from British bank HSBC, on a security of French insurance agency Coface. It has thus become “the first Russian airline receiving insurance wrap from an international export agency for purchasing helicopters,” claims UTAir. The contract is for 19 Eurocopter AS350/AS355 Ecureuil/AStar singles.
Having acquired a Eurocopter full EC135 flight simulator from Thales, French helicopter operator SAF Hélicoptères inaugurated its “training academy” on June 15, bringing access to flight simulators to pilots of light helicopters. The €5 million ($6.3 million) training center, located near Albertville in the French Alps, will be available to pilots from other operators next year. SAF anticipates running the simulator 2,000 hours annually.
Eurocopter is hoping to establish a completion center for its Ecureuil light helicopter series in Tianjin, China, next year. Company president Lutz Bertling inked a memorandum of understanding today with Feng Zhijiang, president of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TFTZ). The agreement aims at “exploring the creation of a completion and customization center.”
Eurocopter’s subsidiary in the Southern Cone has formed a partnership with Servicios Aéreos de Los Andes and opened its first certified service center in Peru. The new center, based in the city of Ayacucho, will offer Eurocopter AS350B3 customers a maintenance center certified at the operational and intermediate (O&I) level.
The center will carry out inspections up to 600 flying hours and will replace small and large components, including gearboxes, blade and hub units, and electrical and avionics systems.
Business and VIP helicopter sales are recovering, according to Eurocopter. “After the downturn that hit us between late 2008 and early 2010, we are seeing new demand coming from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Moreover, the U.S. is in a healthier position,” Patrice Royer, the manufacturer’s head of business and private aviation sales, told AIN. This segment, however, is deemed fragile, as it is closely tied to the fortunes to those of stock markets, which themselves remain volatile.
Eurocopter India’s first three orders for 2012 are for corporate-configured helicopters. An AS350B3e AStar/Ecureuil will be delivered this year to G.R. Constructions. This year, too, a six-passenger EC135 and a nine-passenger EC155 will be delivered to two undisclosed customers. The sales were announced at the India Aviation 2012 show in Hyderabad.
Eurocopter is claiming a 64-percent share of the small Indian civil helicopter market. Last year the manufacturer delivered nine new turbine helicopters out of a total of 14 registered in the country. Five were twins, while the remaining four were single-engine AS350B3s. The AS350 Ecureuil/AStar series had a 70- to 80-percent market share in the single-engine sector over the last two years in India, Eurocopter said.
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